1 of 2
1
Suck it up
Posted: 29 October 2007 02:33 PM   [ Ignore ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  127
Joined  2007-06-14

I’m hoping for documented proof, but will also be happy with educated intuition.

Does “Suck it up” come from what drill sergeants tell recruits to do with their bellies (suck it in),
or is it a reference to actually sucking something into the mouth?  I’m referring to the phrase as used to
mean endure difficult circumstances, put up with it, ignore adversity, etc.  Or, is the origin a matter
of speculation?  I haven’t found much in the usual sites.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 October 2007 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4789
Joined  2007-01-03

My inclination is to say that it comes from sucking in the gut or sucking air into the lungs, not from any oral/sexual sense.

But it’s nearly impossible to tell for sure. Like the general use of suck to mean something undesirable, the original sense is obscure. Phrases like suck wind and suck hind tit (a reference to being the runt of a litter) predate the slang sense of suck. Whether the slang and drill sergeants’ senses originally referred to these or to cocksucking is lost to the ages. All we know, is the terms quickly acquired the sexual connotation before eventually ameliorating to the point today where they are not offensive.

The OED3 has suck it up from 1967.

Suck meaning undesirable is from 1971.

Suck hind tit is from 1940.

Suck dick is from 1928.

There are probably earlier citations for all of these--I just did a quick check of the OED. But the relative dates will probably generally hold.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 October 2007 03:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  127
Joined  2007-06-14

Interesting.  I’d not considered a possible sexual sense of suck it up, though so many other phrases with suck do have, or have had, one.
If the original use did have something oral about it, I would have assumed it to be something unpalatable, such as vomit or nearly inedible slop.
I heard “suck it in” from gym coaches long before ‘67.  Glad you think suck it up is of obscure origin, as I checked about a dozen usually useful sites and books,
and found nothing more than the OED offers.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 October 2007 05:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
RankRank
Total Posts:  37
Joined  2007-06-27

The exact phrase has been used by The Red Cross manuals when describing how to deal with poisonous bites and even infections of the skin when there are no medical supplies around. But I cannot find my Red Cross Manual (my grandfather’s, but I have it now) so there is no citation I can give. I know that the phrase was used during WW1 for infected wound care, because Grandaddy told me so. It’s still used by Girl- and Boy Scout Leaders, probably stemming from the military/scout connection arising during that war.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 October 2007 06:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2853
Joined  2007-01-31

In my recollection, the phrasal verb used with reference to snake venom, back when they recommended this, was “suck out” not “suck up”.  I stand, as always, ready to be corrected by actual citation, but that’s how I remember it.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 October 2007 06:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  283
Joined  2007-02-23

Of course “suck [something] up” can be used in many ways. “The dry ground sucks up the water after the rain.” “He was sucking up his spaghetti.” “The bees suck up the nectar.” “The chemist sucked an aliquot up into the pipette.”

I believe the current expression is almost surely from “suck up [one’s/etc.] gut/stomach”, typically attributed to a military drill instructor.

From Google Books:

Kendall Banning, _West Point Today_ (1937 [date not reliable since it’s Google Books, but it looks plausible in this case]): //"DRAG IN THAT CHIN! SUCK UP YOUR GUTS!"//

George Madden Martin, “Letitia, Nursery Corps, U. S. A.”, in _American Magazine_ (1907): //"throw up your head, drag in your chin, suck up your stomach, wipe that smile off your face! ...."//

Etc.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 August 2011 03:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Rank
Total Posts:  1
Joined  2011-08-02

I think it may refer to a vacuum cleaner sucking up dirt.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 August 2011 07:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2031
Joined  2007-02-19

I never came across the phrase “ to suck it up” used to mean “to endure difficult circumstances”. That’s a new one on me - thanks, cuchuflete. In my youth, “to suck up to” someone meant to fawn on someone, to act the sycophant - usually with some base motive. Perhaps that is more of a Rightpondian sense - I wouldn’t know.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 August 2011 08:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2853
Joined  2007-01-31

"Suck up to”, with the sense you describe, is quite common in the US, too.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 August 2011 04:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3135
Joined  2007-02-26

It need not have anything to do with either oral sex or holding in one’s belly. To suck something up is to absorb it and I’ve always associated this figurative expression with that meaning. Deal with it, take it on board ... suck it up.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 August 2011 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  710
Joined  2007-02-07

Suck it up, cowboy up, man up, it’s all the same. When did all this “upping” get started?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 August 2011 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1286
Joined  2007-03-21
Sparkina - 02 August 2011 03:38 PM

I think it may refer to a vacuum cleaner sucking up dirt.

could be. But that puts me in mind of the slogan for the Swedish Vacuum company. They did an ad campaign in the 70s with the slogan “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.” Often thought of as a mistake (as noted by Patrick Cox in his recent “The World in Words” podcast) but Wiki suggests that it was on purpose.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 August 2011 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  650
Joined  2011-04-10

There is this, from 1558:

http://books.google.com/books?id=--OHAAAAMAAJ&q=suck+up#search_anchor

--The House of Commons Published for the History of Parliament Trust by H.M.S.O, 1558

There is also this, from 1660:

books?id=UCEDAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA158&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U0WBIfYCuGIhNSQl_Q8EupFK4CDuA&ci=82,385,765,209&edge=0

--The temple, sacred poems and private ejaculations. [With] The synagogue by George Herbert, 1660

It also appears before 1593:

books?id=c8k7AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA10&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U0MsYXhCMLacF8CvKCpQCIIGGmflw&ci=220,156,514,121&edge=0

--The last part of the Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia: Astrophel & Stella and ... by Sir Philip Sidney, c. <1593

.

These do not carry the sense OP was seeking but they may help to establish a baseline for further investigation.

[Edited to fix incorrect linkage.]

[ Edited: 03 August 2011 06:46 AM by sobiest ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 January 2014 08:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Rank
Total Posts:  1
Joined  2014-01-27

I am not a native English speaker. I always thought that expression “suck it up” was related to the physiological process of inhaling air with one’s nose and thereby sucking up nasal mucus as opposed to sniveling.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 January 2014 07:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3525
Joined  2007-01-29

To suck something up is to absorb it and I’ve always associated this figurative expression with that meaning.

It might be time to change your associations; D Wilson’s cites are quite convincing.  (Sobiest’s, on the other hand, are irrelevant; nobody’s disputing that the verbal phrase “suck up” in various other senses is quite old.)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 January 2014 03:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3135
Joined  2007-02-26
languagehat - 29 January 2014 07:11 AM

To suck something up is to absorb it and I’ve always associated this figurative expression with that meaning.

It might be time to change your associations; D Wilson’s cites are quite convincing.  (Sobiest’s, on the other hand, are irrelevant; nobody’s disputing that the verbal phrase “suck up” in various other senses is quite old.)

There’s so much to learn.

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 2
1